Guest blogger Stella Deleuze wrestles with the question: To review or not to review? (Used with permission, from her post on July 20, 2011 at http://wordsbystelladeleuze.blogspot.com/)
When I started out with self-publishing, I promised myself to review every book I buy and read, simply because I knew every author yearns for reviews. Now, I have come to the conclusion that it's better to not do it anymore. The point is, and I know I'll be making enemies by saying this, I've tried a few self-published books and soon switched on my editing-programme in my head, which is a bad sign, really. Of course, being an editor has somewhat destroyed the ability to just read and take in the story, I will admit that. A book must be really well-written, with well-developed characters, a complex story with no holes in it and logical.
If a book fails to fulfill that, I will stop reading and move on to the next. Others might not see those mistakes, but I do. Not saying I've written the perfect book, but moving away from me being an author, to me being a reader, I have high expectations and rightly so. I did have those beforehand and I have stopped reading traditionally published books in the past, but not that many.
My first impulse is to e-mail the author and tell him or her about my concerns, but then you have cases like the infamous author, who couldn't take criticism and hell broke loose. Further on, it's not my responsibility to give constructive criticism; I'm a reader, by buying the book and spending time with it, I've fulfilled what can be expected from me.
Back to me being an author again, I feel a little bit in a pickle; if I give a negative review, I might be in danger of getting one in return, just for revenge, or when I give a positive review - despite my dislike of the book - I'd lie and I don't like lying.
In addition to that, pure readers check out the reviewers of a book and indie authors reviewing other indie authors is widely understood as cheating. People automatically assume it's a review exchange. I will also not tell an author anymore that I've bought his or her book, in case I don't like it, I can just walk away, silently, but if I really love a book, I'll be there to support it. And that's a promise.
It’s a long walk from Kalispell, Montana, to London, England, so Stella and I haven’t yet met, but we’ve become good friends in the past year – just one example of how helpful and gracious writers around the globe can be, if you give them a chance.